Yosemite National Park, California
Source: Getty Images

How the Great American Outdoors Act Helps Protect Natural Spaces in the U.S.

Kori Williams - Author
By

Dec. 27 2022, Published 10:21 a.m. ET

Taking care of our planet is a responsibility that needs to be taken more seriously. Over the years, however, governments from all over have passed different laws to protect natural spaces. The U.S. has national parks that all receive funding, for example and there are a few laws that help maintain their gorgeous natural beauty.

One example is the Great American Outdoors Act, which was established to help protect national parks in the U.S. But how does it do that and how is it funded?

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What Is the Great American Outdoors Act?

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the Great American Outdoors Act is a law meant to protect and maintain public natural land in the country. Enacted on Aug. 4, 2020, the act established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund with $1.9 million annually from fiscal years 2021 to 2025.

National Park Conservancy
Source: Getty Images
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In addition, the Outdoors Act gives $900 million of funding every year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This fund was established in 1964 to protect natural waterways and more in the U.S.. This money is spent on various "programs that support a nationwide legacy of high-quality recreation and conservation areas" including natural parks and conservation areas, volunteering, and more.

Although it may not seem like much money is needed to maintain natural spaces, there is quite a lot of upkeep needed. There are 2,400 natural locations across the U.S. and they get millions of visitors each year. The DOI states that funding for these spaces has decreased over the years while the number of visitors has increased. This means that funding is more needed than ever.

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Death Valley National Park in California
Source: Getty Images

How is the Great American Outdoors Act funded?

Per the DOI, funding for the Land Legacy Restoration Fund comes from half of energy development revenues. These come from energy sources such as oil, coal, and gas. Overall, this amount equals up to $1.9 billion every fiscal year.

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In terms of how the money is spent, the DOI states that the money put into the national parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund is divided proportionally between different causes based on how much aid is needed. 70 percent of the funds are for the National Park Service and 15 percent are given to the U.S. Forest Service, for example.

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On top of that, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education, each get five percent of the funds. With that money, the DOI then suggests projects that the Great American Outdoors Act will work toward but they have to work toward these goals:

  • "Improve DOI’s financial health"
  • "Maximize citizens served"
  • "Protect those we serve"
  • "Plan for the future"

For each of these goals, the Great American Outdoors Act can ensure people with disabilities have equitable access to national parks, keep up with maintenance of all public natural spaces, and make sure these areas are safe.

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